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IB Student Requirements

“Student who are self-motivated and curious do best.  Those who are engaged in the subjects they are studying will enjoy the work required by IB.”    -Herr Matt Beck, German instructor IB_logo.png

A Saint John's Prep student who chooses to participate in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program completes advanced-level courses in six academic areas and three capstone experiences: 

-Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) project
(advisor: Mr. Fremo)

            -A self-initiated project by a student that articulates a need of the community and works to fulfill it. CAS includes one big project that will be graded by IB, students are also expected to participate within their community to become leaders that reflect the ideals of IB.

-Extended Essay
(advisor: Ms. Fitch)

            - The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Program subjects—normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB diploma. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen. It is the result of approximately 40 hours of work containing 4,000 words. The extended essay is externally assessed and, in combination with the grade for Theory of Knowledge, contributes up to three points to the total score for the IB diploma.

-Theory of Knowledge (advisors: Mr. Miller and Mr. Yanke)

            - Theory of Knowledge is a two-semester keystone course within the IB framework that creates for students the space necessary to consider truth and justification. The first semester will investigate the nature of knowledge and how it is acquired. Students will reflect critically on the diverse ways of knowing and consider the role of knowledge in their own culture as well as in other local cultures and in the wider world. The second semester, which has semester one as a prerequisite, will investigate specific areas of knowledge, including mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, the arts, ethics and religion. A 1,200 to 1,600 word final essay on a topic prescribed by IB will be completed in the second semester.

After completing these requirements and corresponding assessments, students receive an IB Diploma in addition to their diploma from SJP.

Course options:

IB English:

The IB English experience is a two year course including three different classes.

British Literature (1 semester)- This course focuses on great literature from the beginnings of the English language through the 1700’s.  Major works include Beowulf, Hamlet, and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, a contemporary play with many of the Hamlet characters.  British history and culture will be studied in relationship to the literature. In addition, students will compose expository, reflective, and analytical pieces of writing.  The course will culminate with a 10 – 15 presentation by each student (Individual Oral Presentation) in fulfillment of 15% of the IB Language A: Literature course grade. 

World Literature (1 semester)-Students will critically read and analyze selections and entire texts from various cultures around the world. While critical reading is the primary focus of this course, discussion, writing and presentations will also be elements. Discussions are critical to the success of this course. Major works include A Doll’s House, The Metamorphosis (including The Judgment, A Country Doctor, and In the Penal Colony), and Persepolis 1 and 2. There will be ancillary readings about the authors and related topics as well as poetry and literary criticism. Instead of tests after each work, you will write a literary analysis essay (750-1400 words). This is in preparation for your IB external assessment Written Assignment, due in May. Therefore, you will also receive writing instruction during this course to prepare you for this assignment worth 25% of your IB English certification. The final submission for the Written Assignment is due January of the students’ senior year.        

IB Senior English (Full year)- IB English 12 is a continuation of the two-year English IB Higher Level course. This yearlong course challenges students to become analytical scholars of works by including Native Son, the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and the dramas The Importance of Being Ernest, Othello, Blue Heart, and Death of a Salesman. Students will be asked to engage in discussion and peer revision, personal reflection, and the writing process. Students will be asked to write a variety of analytical essays in response to major works; in addition, students will engage in rich discussion and commentary on texts. Students will use texts to convey their understanding of literary techniques and synthesize new understandings within works and connections among works. Students will participate in group work and individual presentations. The skills learned in this class are regarded as college level approaches to literature and should adequately prepare the student for IB assessments and the college writing and reading process. Therefore, students should expect to work outside of class on a daily basis. The course will culminate with a 20-minute recorded commentary by each student (Individual Oral Commentary) in fulfillment of 15% of the IB Language A: Literature course grade.  In May, students take two external assessments: Paper 1: Literary Commentary, worth 20% of the course grade, and Paper 2: Essay, worth 25% of the course grade.

IB History:

The aims of the History program at Higher Level (History of the Americas) and Standard Level (Contemporary World History – the Move Towards Global War) are to promote:

• the acquisition and understanding of historical knowledge in breadth and in depth, and across different cultures;

• a developing appreciation and understanding of history as a discipline, including the nature and diversity of its sources, methods and interpretations;

• international awareness and understanding by promoting the achievement of empathy with, and understanding of, people living in diverse places and at different times;

• a better understanding of the present through an understanding of the past;

• an appreciation of the historical dimension of the human condition;

• an ability to use and communicate historical knowledge and understanding;

• a lasting interest in history.

Students can choose to take IB History at the HL (History of the Americans and Contemporary World History) for a two year course commitment, or SL at a one year course commitment (Contemporary World History).  At HL and SL, the course covers the major themes of the contemporary world history with an emphasis on European developments. Major topics covered include Germany 1918 - 1945, Russia under Lenin and Stalin, Italy and Mussolini, Rise of Fascism and Hitler, as well as Japanese expansionism, both world wars, and the Cold War. International relations is an important part of the course and an in-depth study of the breakdown of international cooperation and the Move Towards Global War, based on analysis of historical documents, is undertaken in the first year of the program. Students also undertake as HL track students, a study of aspects of History of the Americas. Students will study the Revolutions of the Americas, The American Civil War, Westward Expansion, The Civil Rights Movement, Cold War in the Americas, and the Great Depression. All students will prepare an independent research paper, Internal Assessment, on a topic of their choice; recent examples would include studies of the Analysis of the 1983 Atari Video Game Crash, Maoist Ideology and the foundation of Chinese Education, the rise of Hitler Youth, and how the Political Landscape of the United States During the Cold War Affected the Space Race. The course develops a variety of skills – including those needed for research, analysis and synthesis – and teaches students how to present clear, logical arguments. The study of history is an excellent preparation for, among other disciplines, studies in international relations, political science, law or journalism.

IB Mathematics:            

A one year class that can be taken in the junior or senior year.

Higher Level- the IB Mathematics HL course goals include: facility with mathematical techniques, contemplation and construction of proofs, and consideration of the historical development of the ideas that we investigate. Syllabus topics include: Vectors and Planes, Probability Distributions, Complex Numbers, Series (including Taylor and Maclaurin series), and Differential Equations.  Each student will conduct an investigation (roughly 8 pages), concerning a topic of their choosing, which is assessed by their teacher and comprises twenty percent of the student’s IB grade.  Each student will take three exams, graded by IB, that comprise eighty percent of the student’s IB grade.

Standard Level- the IB Mathematics SL course goals include: facility with mathematical techniques, contemplation and construction of proofs, and consideration of the historical development of the ideas that we investigate. Syllabus topics include: introductory Differential Calculus, introductory Integral Calculus, and introductory Differential Equations.  Each student will conduct an investigation (roughly 8 pages), concerning a topic of their choosing, which is assessed by their teacher and comprises twenty percent of the student’s IB grade.  Each student will take two exams, graded by IB, that comprise eighty percent of the student’s IB grade.

IB World Languages:

We offer IB courses in three languages at SJP, Spanish, German, and Chinese.  Each language offers two different IB courses, Ab Initio and Language B.

Ab initio- Ab Initio does not require previous knowledge in the language and is designed for students who will only have 2 or 3 years of instruction in the target language by the time they complete the IB program.  The topics that are covered are the individual and society, leisure and work, and urban and rural environments.  The assessments are Paper 1 (reading comprehension - 30%), Paper 2 (written skills - 25%), written assignment (20%), and individual oral (25%).

Language B- Language B is designed for students who will have at least 3-4 years of instruction in the target language by the time they complete the IB program.  The required topics in Language B are communication and media, global issues, and social relationships, and optional topics are also covered, including cultural diversity, customs and traditions, health, leisure, and science and technology.  At the HL level, at least two works of literature must be read.  The assessments are Paper 1(reading assignment - 25%), Paper 2 (written skills - 25%), written assignment (20%), individual oral (20%) and interactive oral (10%).

IB Science:

A student can choose between three science classes taken in the junior or senior year. 

Physics (one year)- This physics course is mainly algebra and trigonometry based. The intent of the course is to prepare students for college level science and physics. Topics studied include mechanics, thermodynamics, wave motion, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. In this course many demonstrations are employed to enhance the understanding of the physics involved. The prerequisites for this course include the satisfactory completion of Algebra II/Trigonometry or its equivalent. An original laboratory investigation will be completed and account for 20% of the final IB grade. The text for this course is Physics: Principles with Applications by Douglas C. Giancoli.

Chemistry (one year)- This course is designed to give the student a working knowledge of chemistry by emphasizing chemistry-related technology issues now confronting our society and the world community.  Emphasis in the course is on learning and relating chemical principles with each other and then using mathematics in chemical problem solving. The main areas of study are: atomic structure, periodic law, quantitative chemistry, acids and bases, equilibrium, kinetics, reduction and oxidation, organic chemistry, and energy. An original laboratory investigation will be completed and account for 20% of the final IB grade.  The rest of the IB score will be determined by three external assessments at the culmination of the course.

Biology (two years)-

One year of an introductory course must be taken in order to enroll in IB Physics or Chemistry.

IB Art:

The IB art course in an integral component of the IB program.  Through the study of aesthetics, engaging in critical thinking and through kinesthetic experience, the students will explore many ways of knowing and understanding the world around them.   As a school with an international flavor, IB art students at SJP will naturally develop an appreciation of aesthetics through investigation and comparative analysis of a variety of art from the student’s own culture and other cultures, both past and present, intentionally striving toward balance and cultural awareness.   Students are encouraged to reflect deeply about art concepts in an effort to become knowledgeable about the motivations for creating art.  They will accomplish this through practice, inquiry and risk-taking, resulting in the completion of a body of work and evidence of process that is reflective of the student as a developing thinker, communicator and principled artist.  Students will ultimately create a curated body of work that demonstrates sensitivity to a variety of materials and technical processes, as well as open-mindedness in studio practice.  

Assessment in IB Art Media Explorations is both internal(40%) and external (60%).  An exhibition of art (40%) that is curated by the student comprises the internal assessment portion, while the creation of a comparative study (20%), examining the work of at least two artists from different cultures and time-periods as well as a process portfolio (40%) documenting the creative technical processes and progress make up the external component of the assessment.                        

IB Philosophy: This full-year course focuses on engaging students in critical thinking, specifically in the training and practice of philosophy in the Western tradition.  Studies focus centrally on the meaning of the human experience, as considered by thinkers ancient to contemporary; Logic and argument, knowledge, reality, self and consciousness, free will and causality, philosophy of religion and other topics found the basis of the curriculum. Students prepare for the IB examinations in this course, evaluating Plato's Republic in the Fall semester and envisioning and completing a major essay (Internal Assessment) in the Spring, in addition to completing the final examinations in early May.

IB Music: IB Music is an intense course of study to help students recognize and articulate elements of music. Music studied will be taken from a diverse wide range of cultural backgrounds. Students will study music history and literature as well as basic music theory to enable them to effectively discuss and analyze music from a variety of cultures.  All students in IB Music are required to participate in one of the three large group ensembles of the school.  The IB Music class meets every other day for a full year.


Prep grading will be based on daily participation, quizzes, presentations, and other written assignments.  Unit test count towards 40% of grade, Daily participation counts towards 30% and all other assignments are 30%.

IB Grading

Listening Paper: 30% (exam 2 hours)

This is the Final Exam scheduled by the IB program, a response to several works including two which will studied in-depth during class. You will answer 4 of 6 essay questions in total. The first will  be based on the prescribed works. The second question will be based on classic music, and the final two questions on other world musical selections unknown until the exam. You will respond to the four questions using your skills of musical perception and analysis. (This is graded externally.)

Musical Links Investigation: 20%

You will write a media script (i.e. magazine article, radio interview script, web site) of no more than 2000 words that will examine musical links between two pieces of music from distinctly different cultures. (This is graded externally.)

Two Public Group Performances: 50% graded internally (then moderated externally)

Two different public concerts with the same ensemble will be recorded and submitted to I.B. containing approximately 20-30 minutes of music.

ISACS - independent schools association of the central states - accredited member school